It has been said ‘The world loves, not those who would sacrifice themselves for others, if they could find an opportunity, but those who have found one and used it.’ She, our mother, the state, saw the distinction, and applied it to her sons of the sword and gun; and now it is the text of the sermon she means these stones to preach immemorially. In other words, making this matchless structure speak for her, she says: ‘They are my best beloved, who in every instance of danger to the nation, discover a glorious chance to serve their fellow men and dare the chance, though in so doing they suffer and sometimes die.’
General Lew Wallace, speech on the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis in 1902
My family and I vacation each year in Indianapolis in August as we attend the GenCon Convention. A city of approximately 850,000, the state capitol of Indiana is a very livable city where it is still possible to park on the street in the major business section. Indianapolis is filled with monuments and the most striking by far is the Civil War memorial, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indie. Dedicated in 1902 to Indiana’s silent victors, the Hoosiers who fell in the War, the monument stands 284 feet tall on Monument Circle. The Monument is huge, taking up an acre of space. Costing a bit over a half million when built, the estimated cost to build such a structure today is half a billion.
There is an observation deck on top and tourists can either take an elevator or climb the seemingly endless and narrow winding 331 steps. I recommend the elevator. Several years ago I climbed the steps with my kids. Being young teenagers then, they had no trouble. I was about fifty at the time, and on that muggy day almost killed myself getting to the top!
Some 208,000 Hoosiers served in the War, with 24,000 killed and 50,000 wounded. The Monument is a fitting tribute to their valor, service and sacrifice.